India's corporate healthcare system has a lot of allegations against it. Ranging from skyrocketing price to profit driven practices, it has been blamed for all.
Corporate healthcare system was devised as a solution to provide for all health care needs of a patient at one place. All that's needed to treat one, starting from state of the art diagnostics to high end surgical units, are available. As opposed to overcrowded, underfunded government hospital with overworked doctors, private hospitals provide respite to an average middle class with their swanky infrastructure and technology.
‘Private hospitals provide respite to an average middle class with their swanky infrastructure and technology, as opposed to overcrowded, underfunded government hospital with overworked doctors.’
An article by British Medical Journal in September 2015 created quite an uproar in India when it accused our private hospitals of unethical practices. It talked about the financial targets set for doctors by profit driven hospitals and the unethical practices that followed. Emotionally moving interviews by consultants of private hospitals made one's blood boil and question the existence of the private healthcare machinery.
A poll conducted by Curofy, India's largest community of verified doctors turned up with some interesting results. 2570 doctors were asked if they think that corporate practices are leading to unethical practices. A whooping 86.38% of doctors said that yes, corporate hospitals are encouraging unethical practices.
"Better corporatization is required in the healthcare industry" said Dr Anil Kohli, Senior Consultant, Apollo. "Hospitals can not control the ethics of the doctor, it is a competitive market hence sensitivity is less. Hospitals need to be more transparent,there is also a wide variation in the medical expenses, pharma companies have a margin of 30-40 percent so profit could be made around that area."
A segment of doctors also felt that corporate hospitals are not promoting unethical practices. 8.63% of the polled votes supported that.
Dr Vijay Arora, Emeritus Consultant, General and Laparoscopic Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, "I feel all doctors are ethical and they do not do any unethical practices. However with Businessmen venturing into the healthcare industry it is a different point. They have their own principles but doctors will not do anything unethical ever." 4.66% of the doctors stood divided and couldn't say if corporatisation has led to unethical practices or not.
In a state wise break up of the results, 100 % of doctors from Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh blamed Corporate Hospitals for unethical practices followed by NCR(95%), Maharashtra(89%), Tamil Nadu (85%) and West Bengal(78%). Most of the doctor's who polled were concerned about the revenue making exercises they were made to go through by the hospital board, the unachievable targets that were set and deadlines.
On the condition of anonymity a doctor who used to work in a leading corporate hospital in Delhi and now works in a healthcare startup said, "When I first joined the hospital I was shocked to see patients suffering from sore throat were admitted in ICU. On my first day I was directed to not tell the patients clearly what they are suffering from and prescribe them as many investigations as I could since that is where maximum revenue is generated."
Dr Ragini Aggarwal,director Medical services at W pratiksha hospital said, "You cannot see all the hospitals from one point of view, but since businessmen are venturing into healthcare and are investing huge amounts so they will expect return, but W hospital is not a corporate hospital and we have no targets."
Mr Nipun Goyal, Co founder Curofy said, "Corporatisation is necessary to provide quality healthcare to the patients. It keeps the competition to be better alive. But the poll result clearly showed that we need stronger laws to keep unethical practices in check."
State Wise Break Up Of Doctors Who Said Corporatisation Is Leading To Unethical Practices :
Uttar Pradesh: 85%
Madhya Pradesh: 100%
Himachal Pradesh: 100%
West Bengal: 78%
Andhra Pradesh: 67%